Matrix Audio Mini-i 4 Review

Matrix Mini-i 4 review featured

In this article, I’m reviewing the new Matrix Audio Mini-i 4 DAC and music streamer. The Mini-i 4 features an ES9039Q2M DAC chip, has a rich set of digital inputs and supports various network streaming protocols. It’s priced at $649.

Disclaimer: This sample was provided by Shenzhen Audio for an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.

Matrix Audio Mini-i 4 Review
Verdict
A rich feature set and great performance at an affordable price.
Add your rating here!0 Votes
Pros
Transparent, unbiased sound
Clear & colourful display
Cons
No digital output
No physical remote included
4.2
Our Score

Matrix Audio Mini-i 4

Matrix Mini-i 4 chassis

Design

The Mini-i 4 presents a sleek chassis, characterized by its basic aluminium construction with sharp corners and ridged black plastic sides. Adding a touch of visual contrast is an oval-shaped window on the front panel. Front and centre is a 3.46-inch LCD touchscreen that delivers clear text and vibrant colours, notably enhancing the display of album art.

Positioned on either side of the touchscreen are capacitive buttons. On the left, these buttons facilitate cycling through various inputs, while on the right, they provide control over volume adjustments.

Situated in the top left corner of the unit is a small power button, which offers a short press for muting audio output and a long press to transition the Mini-i 4 into standby mode.

Turning our attention to the back I/O panel, a range of connections is available from left to right: AC input, ethernet port, USB-C input (for external storage devices), USB-B digital audio input, HDMI ARC input, optical and coaxial input, as well as RCA analog input, along with analog RCA and XLR outputs.

Under the hood, the Mini-i 4 operates on a Quad Cortex-A55 2.0GHz processor. Decoding duties are carried out by a flagship ES9039Q2M DAC chip. Notably, the Mini-i 4 boasts an impressive signal-to-noise ratio of 121dB from the RCA output and an even more remarkable 127dB from the XLR output. This ensures a cleaner and more distinct sound with less audible interference from noise.

Matrix Mini-i 4 rear I/O

Features

I’d like to preface this section by highlighting a couple of notable omissions in the Mini-i 4’s feature set. Firstly, it’s important to note that this streamer does not come equipped with any form of wireless connectivity, meaning there’s no WiFi or Bluetooth functionality onboard. Instead, it relies on an ethernet connection to access your local area network (LAN).

The second feature that the Mini-i 4 lacks is a digital output. Now, this isn’t necessarily a negative point, but it’s something worth being aware of before making a purchase decision. Personally, I find no need or desire for a digital output, but the significance of this will naturally vary among different users.

Shifting our focus to the features that are indeed present, let’s start with the MA player app (MA Remote). This app is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. Matrix audio explains that the MA player enables you to control and operate the Mini-i 4 using smartphones or tablets within your local area network. This becomes especially pertinent as the Mini-i 4 doesn’t come with a physical remote. However, if desired, you can separately purchase the RM5 remote for around $50.

The MA player app also boasts integrations like Roon Ready (currently undergoing certification), DLNA/UPnP, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and TIDAL Connect. Moreover, it grants access to platforms such as TIDAL, Qobuz, HIGHRESAUDIO, and Internet radio. Beyond playback capabilities, the app offers the flexibility to delve into system settings, initiate firmware updates for the Mini-i 4, and fine-tune various parameters.

For those with a local digital audio library, the Mini-i 4 shines in its support for local music playback from USB storage devices and NAS. It goes the extra mile by autonomously indexing these storage sources and assembling a comprehensive music library based on your content.

Mini-i 4 rear panel

My Test Setup

I had the Mini-i 4 seamlessly integrated into my LAN by making use of the ethernet port, granting me swift access to my local PC’s music library through the DLNA protocol. Additionally, I had it directly linked to my PC via the USB-B port, a setup that conveniently transformed it into my daily driver DAC. To put its streaming prowess to the test, I conducted trials with both Tidal and Spotify Connect.

For audio output, I opted to harness the Mini-i 4’s capabilities by connecting it to my Topping L70 headphone amplifier, utilizing the XLR ports. In a separate testing phase, I tapped into its potential once again, this time in tandem with my Kali Audio LP-8 studio monitors, once more employing the XLR interface.

Navigating the MA player interface proved to be straightforward, even though there’s room for potential enhancements in usability. The app endowed me with comprehensive control over the Mini-i 4, letting me initiate music playback, fine-tune the volume levels, experiment with digital filters, and power the device on or off.

Matrix Audio glowing logo

Sound

The audio performance of the Matrix Audio Mini-i 4 DAC and music streamer is aptly characterized by its core attributes of neutrality and transparency. True to its mission, the Mini-i 4 seamlessly transforms digital bits into a canvas of analog splendour, all while refraining from introducing any unwarranted colouration.

Delving into the sonic dimensions, the Mini-i 4 impressively extends its prowess across the frequency spectrum. The low end is marked by a bass delivery that is both tight and commanding, showcasing an exceptional depth that resonates with impact. At the opposite end, the treble registers as precise and intricate, an auditory embroidery that maintains its clarity even in the most intricate passages.

The midrange, a pivotal sonic anchor, emerges as a bastion of richness and expressiveness. Yet, this character doesn’t veer into bias; instead, it straddles the fine line between analytical precision and an engaging musicality. This equilibrium ensures that the listener is enveloped in a holistic and unbiased musical experience.

Despite its linear presentation, the Mini-i 4 manages to summon a natural and organic soundscape. While adhering to an uncoloured delivery, it successfully evokes the emotive resonance and authenticity that epitomizes live performances. The result is an immersion in music that feels both lifelike and emotionally resonant.

Micro-details, often the hallmark of distinction in the realm of DACs, are an undeniable forte of the Mini-i 4. In a landscape brimming with contenders, the Mini-i 4 confidently strides forward, unabashedly rivalling discrete DACs within its price bracket. Yet, it does so without embellishment or romanticization; instead, it embraces a foundation of transparency and candour, contributing to an auditory landscape that is refreshingly authentic and unadulterated.

The verdict is unmistakable: the Matrix Audio Mini-i 4 DAC and music streamer is an embodiment of sonic integrity. In a world that sometimes veers towards embellishments, the Mini-i 4 stands resolute, delivering sound that is honest, transparent, and utterly compelling.

Matrix Mini-i 4 power button

Verdict

The verdict is unmistakable: the Matrix Audio Mini-i 4 DAC and music streamer is an embodiment of sonic integrity. In a world that sometimes veers towards embellishments, the Mini-i 4 stands resolute, delivering sound that is honest, transparent, and utterly compelling.

Aside from its audio prowess, the Mini-i 4 performs exceptionally as a music streamer, albeit one without any wireless capabilities. It comes with a rich feature set that most other streamers can’t match for the price. If you’re looking for a capable streamer with outstanding audio quality, the Mini-i 4 is a must-have. Needless to mention, the Mini-i 4 surpassed my expectations and is deserving of our recommended award.

Recommended award


Specifications

Hardware Platform

CPUQuad Cortex-A55 2.0GHz
D/A ChipES9039Q2M

Digital Input

COAXIAL & OPTICALPCM 16-24Bit /44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHzDSD 2.8MHz (DoP) 
HDMI ARCPCM 16-24Bit /44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz 
USB AudioPCM 16-24Bit /44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 352.8kHz, 384kHz, 705.6kHz, 768kHzMQA 16-24Bit /44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 352.8kHz, 384kHz MQA or MQA Studio streamDSD 2.8MHz, 5.6MHz, 11.2MHz (DoP)DSD 2.8MHz, 5.6MHz, 11.2MHz, 22.4MHz (Native)

Aux Input

SNR100dB A-weighting
THD+N<0.0035%@1k, <0.0035%@20Hz-20kHz
Frequency Response20Hz-20kHz ±0.1 -3dB@46kHz
Channel Crosstalk>-105dB
Input Level2.1VRMS Maximum

Line Output

XLRSNR: 127dB A-weightingTHD+N:<0.00015%@1k, <0.00018%@20Hz-20kHzFrequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz ±0.1 -3dB@90kHzChannel Crosstalk: >-146dBOutput Level: 4.4VRMS@0dB 
RCASNR: 121dB A-weightingTHD+N:<0.00015%@1k, <0.00030%@20Hz-20kHzFrequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz ±0.1 -3dB@90kHzChannel Crosstalk: >-133dBOutput Level: 2.2VRMS@0dB

MA player

Controller app:MA Remote App
Local Playback
Format Supported:MP3 , WMA , WAV , AIF, AIFC, AIFF, AAC, FLAC, OGG, APE, ALAC, M4A, DSF, DFF, CUE
 
PCM Sampling Rate:PCM 16-24Bit 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 352.8kHz, 384kHz, 705.6kHz, 768kHz
MQA  16-24Bit /44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 352.8kHz, 384kHz MQA or MQA Studio stream
 
DSD Sampling Rate:2.8MHz, 5.6MHz, 11.2MHz, 22.4MHz
Roon Ready(Under certification test )
PCM Sampling Rate:PCM 16-24 Bit /44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 
352.8kHz, 384kHz, 705.6kHz, 768kHz
MQA  16-24 Bit /44.1 kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 352.8kHz, 384kHz MQA or MQA Studio stream
DSD Sampling Rate:DSD 2.8MHz, 5.6MHz, 11.2MHz, 22.4MHz

Weight & Size

Weight1.3 kg (2.87 pounds)
SizeWidth: 224 mm (8.80 inches)
Depth: 186 mm (7.32 inches)
Height: 53 mm (2.07 inches)

Stay in the Loop with the Latest News and Updates!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Founder of Prime Audio
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Stay in the Loop with the Latest News and Updates!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x